Calderon of hatred for the weeping president

Now, we’ve been here before but just to recap: Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón has done lots of bloody stupid things.

Like buying that creaking Airfix plane he forces the team to travel in. Like letting some Italian bloke who doesn’t much look like Nicolas Cage parade around the Bernabéu directors’ box like he owns the place (and then claiming he’d clocked him right from the start, which is why he made him an honorary member, gave him a signed shirt and took him into the dressing room). And like employing Arturo Sisó to infuriate fans, set ears bleeding and insult his own players.

So maybe it was no real surprise that last Sunday he got booed, whistled and defeated at the club’s assembly of compromisarios (members with voice and vote). Maybe it was no surprise that he was hammered 682 to 150, his reforms nonchalantly thrown out the window like rubbish at a Spanish traffic light. And maybe it was no surprise that the auditorium launched into a chant of “Resign! Resign! Resign!”

But Calderón has just presided over a second successive league title since taking over at a club that had gone four years without winning a thing - the longest drought in over half a century. And this time - and this is what really matters - Calderón wasn’t doing anything bloody stupid at all. He wasn’t mouthing off about some unobtainable signing, running round a pitch with a spot of premature celebrating or getting held up at New York City customs because he shares a name with some Mexican bandido. This time, he was actually doing something reasonably sensible.

This time he was proposing a number of changes to the club’s statutes, the most important of which included changing the club’s name from Real Madrid Club de Fútbol to Real Madrid full stop (that’s “Real Madrid” and nothing else rather than “Real Madrid full stop”, which would be really bloody silly, but not beyond him) in order to reflect the importance of basketball to the club. A change in the postal vote system for presidential elections. A change in the way in which members can join the assembly. And the official incorporation of the peñas (supporters’ clubs) into the statutes. None of which, miraculously, were particularly silly (although changing the name was pretty pointless).

Hands off clocks, letters off socks?

He proposed removing the huge bank guarantee needed to become a compromisario, thus making it a more democratic process (although there was no change in the fact that a presidential candidate still has to gather together over €40m to stand, which is a nice way of keeping the plebs and those without shady powerful backers out of it).  He proposed a system whereby postal votes had to go through the Post Office and be backed by a copy of the member’s Real Madrid member’s card and his passport or national identity card, when right now the candidates themselves can, ahem, “collect” postal votes on their own behalf - something that led to the huge scandal last time, when some members voted when they hadn’t, some voted three times and some voted despite being dead.

The change to the postal votes system in particular was absolutely vital to avoid another Banana Republic episode and in general the proposals seem, to La Liga Loca's untrained eye, entirely sensible and actually pretty necessary. Yet still they hammered him - and the poor little lamb looked like he was going to cry.

The question is: why? Not why did he look like crying - it's his party and he’ll cry if he wants to - but why did they throw his proposals out?

Because however sensible his proposals, few believe there is not some hidden agenda. In short, because they don’t trust him.

Even though he wasn't the biggest con-merchant forging votes during the elections – the real shifty business was happening from within the club itself, controlled by the former president’s cronies – they don’t trust a man whose nephew's hidden cameras caught them talking about fiddles. They don’t trust a man who set up a soccer school in Mexican via the club’s charitable Fundación only for it to vanish. And they don’t trust a man who has so willingly paid well over the odds for players.

Even if he hasn’t done anything wrong - and the accusations of dodgy behaviour aren't exactly watertight - they just don’t quite trust him.

They don’t trust a man clinging to the presidency like his life (and his livelihood) depends on it. They don’t trust a man against whom Marca have waged a constant campaign. They don’t trust a president who appears to be such a bumbling idiot, whose successes – despite him making some significant and effective changes since taking over – seem to be accidental rather than the consequence of any kind of policy. And, truth be told, La Liga Loca is not sure it trusts him either. And yet this time he was, quite possibly, right. 

Maybe there’s another reason they don’t trust him. Maybe the compromisarios booed and whistled and called for Calderón’s head because there is another, even less trustworthy but infinitely cleverer, substantially more sinister candidate lurking in the shadows behind them, controlling them like puppets on a string.

Just a thought ... 

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